November 27, 2021

Research reveals UAE businesses need to prioritize skills as much as technology to maximize value from AI

17 September 2020; Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Global research released by Microsoft reveals that companies see the biggest business benefit from artificial intelligence (AI) when they combine deployment of AI with skilling initiatives that focus on both tech and soft skills. Surveying more than 600 employees and leaders within larger enterprises across the UAE, the research focuses on skills needed to thrive as AI becomes increasingly adopted by UAE businesses, giving enterprises insights into where to best place their investment .

“The high-tech UAE economy advanced by initiatives such as the National AI Strategy 2031 will accelerate new economic and social opportunities for citizens, governments and businesses and generate significant  growth, a high priority in the current UAE economy,” said Ihsan Anabtawi, COO and CMO, Microsoft UAE. “This new study analyses how AI leaders are driving more business value in the new environment as companies skill, upskill and reskill the workforce to make them future ready. Those ahead of the curve will empower employees to unlock inherent business value from AI, ensuring their firms increase capacity to be more agile, adaptive and resilient.”

Higher growth companies are combining skilling with AI deployment

Among the UAE companies that are the most mature in terms of AI adoption, the majority of their senior leaders (93%) say they are actively building the skills of their workers or have plans to do so. Further, almost two-thirds (78%) of employees at these businesses say they have already benefitted from reskilling programs.

The research shows that companies prioritizing AI are focused on ensuring it’s complementing the talents of their people. These businesses are cultivating employee skills across every category – ranging from advanced data analysis and critical thinking to communications and creativity.

AI is supporting the creation of company cultures more focused on innovation and learning

In the UAE, almost all workers (97%) are keen to take part in AI reskilling initiatives. The majority (77%) of those working within an organization using more AI say their organization is actively preparing them for a digital future that will be increasingly powered by AI. “We’re seeing a virtuous cycle emerge among those companies who extract the greatest value from AI. These leaders have realised that having the right skills enables them to unlock more value from AI, are in turn encouraged to extend their use of AI, which levels up skills across their whole organization.” added Anabtawi.

To address the skills gap in today’s workforce, Microsoft has set up a virtual training ecosystem designed to benefit employees specialising in skills needed for future jobs. Initiatives like the Microsoft Cloud Society are part of this framework, which has to date reached over 256,000 members across the Middle East and Africa. Additionally, platforms such as the AI Business School are empowering individuals to remotely upskill in areas around AI, Cloud, Data and Security.

For an overview of key research findings please visit here


KRC Research conducted a random online sample of approximately 12,000 people working with enterprise companies (more than 250 employees) were surveyed between 12-30 March. Within each market the sample was comprised of at least 500 workers and 100 leaders (director / senior executive level and above). Markets represented include: Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia (combined), Hungary, Australia, Brazil, Israel, Turkey, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, India, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden.

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